Steven Kern was born December 14, 1958 in Riverside, California. Because his father was a navigator in the Air Force, by the time he was 14 years old, he had lived in Merced, California; Montgomery, Alabama; Salina, Kansas; Roswell, New Mexico; and was living in Plattsburgh, New York. On December 26, 1972, while a family friend was taking his mother, his two sisters, and him to the airport in Montreal, Canada to fly to visit his grandparents in Seattle, Washington, his mother unexpectedly died of a heart attack.
The sudden death of his mother changed his life drastically. After his father returned from Vietnam, his sisters and he were sent to Seattle, Washington in the hopes that their grandparents would raise them. When it was clear that they wouldn’t be able to do so, the three children were moved to Sacramento, California where their father was stationed. Because Steve had been raised in an atheist home, he had no knowledge of the Bible or Jesus Christ. The devastating loss of his mother started him on a spiritual quest for answers.
When he was 17 years old, after his best friend, Scott LaBotz, had been inviting him to church and to Campus Life meetings, he made the decision to trust Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at a retreat in Santa Cruz, California. His college years were spent trying to seek God’s will as he studied Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Davis.
He met his wife, Pam, during his sophomore year of college. At the time, she wasn’t a Christian. After Steve and his friend Scott had shared the Gospel with her for about 6 months, Pam made the decision to trust Christ as her Lord and Savior. Pam graduated with a B.S. in Biological Sciences in 1980 with plans to continue her studies at Dental School. One year later, Steve graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and they were married 2 months later on August 8, 1981.
After they were married, they moved near New Orleans, Louisiana where Steve worked as a chemical engineer at a chemical plant (Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical) on the Mississippi River and Pam worked as a Dental Assistant. She had made the decision to not go to Dental School so that she could stay at home to raise their future children. Moving to the Louisiana was the greatest thing that could have happened spiritually for the Kerns.
For them, Louisiana was the antithesis of California. They were stripped of all of the “fun” things that they liked to do in California like backpacking, hiking, skiing, surfing, trout fishing, and other sports. At the same time, they were searching for a church where they could grow as a young married couple. At first, they were miserable as they couldn’t find a decent church and didn’t like Louisiana. This forced them to seek God more aggressively and read the Bible more to seek God’s will.
Finally, they found a great church, First Baptist Church of Kenner, a Southern Baptist Church. They became very involved in the church and especially in the evangelistic ministries and visitation. In 1983, they met Leo Humphrey, the founder of Good News In Action, and started going out with him to the inner-city neighborhoods to evangelize door to door and show Christian movies to reach people with the Gospel. From the moment he started going out, Steve felt at home as he saw many people pray to receive Christ. That same year, on May 14, 1983, their first child, Kristen Elisabeth, was born.
Leo invited Steve on a mission trip to El Salvador in December of 1983, a country highly receptive to the Gospel. It was a life changing week as they saw hundreds of people saved. He then returned to El Salvador in March of 1984. During that week, God started speaking to his heart about moving to El Salvador. He returned to El Salvador in May of the same year and God really started working on his heart. Every time he would do his quiet time and pray, he could hear in his heart that God was calling him. He kept telling God how it would be crazy for his family to move to El Salvador since they had just bought a house, a truck and had had their first child. Then, as he was reading 2 Samuel 24 trying to understand why God had punished David and Israel it suddenly hit him that that passage was speaking of his lack of faith. In August of 1984, he surrendered in prayer to God’s call and immediately told his wife.
They immediately interviewed with the Foreign Missionary Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and found out that they couldn’t go to El Salvador due to an agreement made with the American Baptist Convention at the turn of the Twentieth Century. At that time, the two conventions agreed to split Central America up with the American Baptists sending church planters to Nicaragua and El Salvador and the Southern Baptists to Guatemala and Honduras (The agreement was changed in the 1990’s after the Kerns had lived in El Salvador almost 10 years). Because Steve was sure that God had called him to El Salvador and not another Central American country, they decided to sell almost everything they had and move to El Salvador by faith. They joined Good News In Action after Leo and Steve had discussed working together. From the moment they moved to El Salvador to this date, God has been faithful to provide for their needs even though they never did deputation or solicited funds.
While they were preparing to move to El Salvador, their second child, Stephanie Joy, was born on May 9, 1985. Finally, On September 14, 1985, Steve and Pam moved to El Salvador with two year old and four month old daughters to a country that was in the middle of a civil war. From the moment they moved there, they saw how receptive the people were to the Gospel. During the first year alone, more than 12,000 people made professions of faith in Christ in their evangelistic activities. They dedicated their time to helping start new missions from Miramonte Baptist Church and evangelizing with teams that Leo brought down from the states monthly. Because Good News In Action was under the authority of Miramonte, Steve was on the pastoral support team of the church and all of the work was done through the church. On December 29, 1986, Matthew Steven, their third child was born. They had to go back to the New Orleans area for his birth because San Salvador, El Salvador was devastated by a 7.9 earthquake on October 10, 1986.
During the next 5 years they continued to evangelize and start many churches throughout the country of El Salvador. In January 1991 they left Miramonte Baptist Churchto start a church in highly strategic area of the capitol city with the high school pastor, Julio Contreras. On October 26, 1991, their fourth child, Michelle Suzanne, was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. By the end of 1991 Steve had completed his Master’s degree in Religious Studies from Liberty University.
When New Life Baptist Church was started, Leo decided to place Good News In Action under its authority; it has been there since that date. Since 1991, New Life Baptist Church has grown consistently at an annual rate of 20% and in 2014 had over 1200 members divided among 4 campuses. It also has started a Bible Institute, Theological Seminary, a Bilingual Christian School and a missions’ program called MetroAmérica 020* with a goal of reaching the 262 million lost who live in that region.
On Sunday, March 26, 2006 Steve found out about Leo’s passing on at 9:55 AM just after he had preached the first service and 20 minutes before he had to preach the second service at New Life Baptist Church Miralvalle. The news was so shocking and overwhelming that he didn’t know if he could preach. Then two things came to his mind. First, he remembered that Leo always said that the ministry of the Lord was bigger than any of us. Steve believed that Leo would have been upset if they would have changed the program for him. That’s the way Leo was—he always thought about others first. Secondly, he was preaching on the cross and the crucified life—Leo’s favorite subject. That morning, as he preached from Romans 6:1-6, he told the congregation at Vida Nueva that Leo was the greatest man that he ever knew for patterning what it meant to be co-crucified with Christ and live a life devoted to the salvation of others. Leo was not only like a father to Steve but also a best friend and a mentor.
Although Leo would be greatly missed, Good News In Action had to continue. Steve was appointed as the director of the ministry and made a commitment to continue with the vision of Good News In Action. Leo used to always talk about marketplace evangelism—going to where lost people were and sharing the Gospel with them on their turf. Good News would continue doing that.
It would continue to reach out to El Salvador and continue to help its national missionaries through leadership training, financial support and evangelistic campaigns and outreaches with teams from the United States. It would continue preaching and sharing in the marketplaces, streets, parks, and homes of their beloved country El Salvador.
It would also continue to reach out in the area called MetroAmérica 020*. “Metro” stands for metropolitan areas, “America” stands for Central and South America, “0” stands for the equator, and “20” stands for the Tropic of Cancer (we know that it’s 22.5). According to statistics, there are over 260 million people in the area between Ecuador and Mexico, including the Caribbean, and over 220 million of them are lost. Over 60% of them live in the metropolitan areas of more than 1 million that Good News and New Life Baptist Church are targeting.
It would also continue the commitment to start churches where the new believers would be followed up and discipled. That’s why, since 1985, in El Salvador; Good News has helped start over 60 churches to help follow-up the over 320,000 people who have made professions of faith. And because Good News believes in reproducing the ministry in the churches they start, they would continue to equip the new churches with tracts, Gospels of John, equipment to show Christian movies, and equipment to preach outdoors.
Steve made a commitment to not only continue as the Director of Good News In Action but also to continue as one of the pastors of New Life Baptist Church with his close friend Julio Contreras, who is the senior pastor. In May of 2007, Steve finished his studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina earning a Doctor in Ministry degree. The title of his thesis was “Assimilating New Converts into the Local Church in San Salvador, El Salvador through Small Groups”.
Steve currently pastors, preaches multiple times per week, teaches in the seminary, mentors many men who feel called into the ministry, disciples, gives leadership to all aspects of Metro America, and serves as the Director of Good News in Action. Pam actively disciples new believers, mentors younger women in the principles found in Titus 2:3-5 through Bible Study and practical application, is the teacher for the young ladies in our Bible Institute, administrates the 4th-8th grade Awana ministry in our church, and handles all the finances, administrative areas, and communications for Good News in Action.